You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


Larisa Iordache

It’s time for the 236th edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered! We apologize if we haven’t gotten to your question yet, but we try to answer in the order in which they were received (unless they are super relevant and need to be answered in a timely manner). Something you want to know? Ask us anonymously by going through the contact form at the bottom of the page.

Do you think Larisa Iordache performed her tumbling better at 2015 national event finals or the 2015 world all-around?

I thought her double double wasn’t great at either, but her triple full was vastly better at national event finals and her double pike was much stronger at worlds…the full-in was about equal at both. I’d say they both had problem areas but overall they were about equal to me, though I’d say worlds was definitely a bit tighter than nationals. If you’re asking this question because she got nearly a point higher for her nationals floor scores, that’s because Romanian home judging is pretty much the worst judging on the planet.

Can you please explain how junior worlds will work? When is it first being held?

There’s no information about this competition just yet. I know the FIG and many federations want this to be similar to the individual senior world championships, with small groups of athletes competing in individual finals and no team competition, but the U.S. and a few other larger programs have said they won’t participate if there’s no team competition (because they like to use the team competition to prep their athletes for larger competitions, like the Olympics, especially for girls who are 2004-born and won’t get a chance to go to senior worlds prior to Tokyo) so I think they’re still trying to figure out what to do. We’re expected to see the first junior worlds in 2019 in Györ, Hungary, but again, nothing is super settled right now.

Why did Aliya Mustafina have so much difficulty including an acro series on beam? Would two back handsprings into a dismount count as a series?

I think she was just very stubborn about what she wanted to do as a series, and even though she knew she was struggling with the multiple versions of her series last quad, it was her goal to hit it and she didn’t want to ‘settle’ for something easier. I’ve always been on the “just do a frigging back handspring layout stepout like every basic bitch already!!!” side of things, but I also see why she wanted to make things fun and interesting for herself and I respect her for going for it. And I mean…she still won a world beam medal without an acro series, so…get it, lady. The judges love you anyway, do whatever you want. And no, the back handsprings into a dismount don’t count as a flight series.

Morgan Hurd is committed to NCAA. When do you think she’ll leave elite and start at Florida?

I think she’ll wait until after the Tokyo qualification process. She’d only be pushing school back a year if she does this, so it’s not like she’d have a huge gap between finishing high school and college…most elite gymnasts who are supposed to start college the year prior to the Olympics will just defer for a year and then start once the Olympics are over.

Are alternates able to submit skills for worlds or the Olympics?

No, because they’re not competing and gymnasts have to successfully compete the skill to get it named. If the alternate ends up coming in and competing, then yes, she can submit a skill, but an alternate who isn’t actually on the team can’t.

Chances of Aliya Mustafina being at worlds?

I’m not sure…it’ll depend on how she looks compared to the others also up for spots. Based on what she did at nationals in the spring, I wouldn’t have taken her…she obviously looked great considering she had given birth five minutes earlier, but she just wasn’t close to an international level of preparedness, and since she’s been injured since then, it’s hard to say if she’ll be ready for October, but we’ll see! I’m pretty sure she’s planning on contending for a spot, but she’ll obviously have to look better than the rest of the gymnasts also contending.

Do you think Martha Karolyi would have approved of Jade Carey’s floor routine? Would she have requested more artistry?

I mean, you can’t really ‘request’ more artistry and have it magically appear. She likely would have made it a priority to fix her artistry and choreo issues, but so is the current national team staff. Back when Aly Raisman was a junior and a young senior, her artistry was abysmal, and I remember when she got into the floor final in 2010, everyone on the national staff was shocked and they spent the entire rest of that meet all hurrying to make Aly’s floor look remotely presentable, lol. She was never a truly artistic floor worker, but she eventually got routines that worked for her and that she was able to perform well, which is probably what they’re hoping to do with Jade. It doesn’t happen overnight, though.

Is there a rule of thumb when identifying which elements on beam and floor are forward or backwards? Is the arabian the sole anomalous exception to the otherwise intuitive distinction? I could also see the Onodi being forward, the roundoff backward, and so on.

I think in general, it’s about the takeoff of the element, and since the arabian has a backwards takeoff, it’s technically a backwards element and is recognized as such in the men’s code of points, but the women’s technical committee realized the issue some gymnasts have with front tumbling, so they made it a front skill with the reasoning that both flips are front flips. In that case, and in the case of the Onodi and the roundoff, you could probably argue for either side, but I think takeoff is the general rule of thumb when a skill is technically both.

Why does it seem like Tkachev skills are rated inconsistently? The Galante and Schimm are rated the same as their stalder/clear hip counterparts but inbars have higher ratings as pirouettes. What other skills are rated incorrectly?

Well, releases and pirouettes are different element groups all together, and pirouetting out of an inbar is vastly different from doing a release out of one, so just because the ratings go up for a pirouette doesn’t mean the same will necessarily happen for a release or transition. There are always going to be issues with how skills are rated in the code because the people rating them are experts about the sport, but the system is man-made and the rating of skills is subjective, especially because different skills will technically have different difficulty levels for different people.

Ana Padurariu, for example, said she is really bad at toe-ons so inbars are naturally easier for her, which is why she has been competing a Schimm since she was like 12 (she actually did it before Kelly Simm or Sophie Scheder) and why she doesn’t do the Church, which is ‘easier’ for most gymnasts. For her, an inbar piked Tkachev should be rated LOWER than a toe-on piked Tkachev, just like for many gymnasts a DTY is easier than a Yurchenko 1½ because of the spotted vs. blind landings. The code will never be perfectly fair or even in how skills are rated, which is why skills are re-evaluated and often changed every four years based on what the technical committee is seeing in competition.

You mentioned in an earlier Q&A that the same root skill applies whether it’s forward or backward; does this also apply to the Weiler kip and clear hip?

So I actually went back and corrected that because my understanding was that the root was the same whether forward or backward, BUT that was from an earlier reading of the code before they differentiated. The technical committee actually discussed this later on and they decided that front and back would NOT be the same, so you can do three stalder skills and three Endo skills in the same routine and be totally fine. Giada Grisetti’s routine is a great example of someone who uses multiple stalder skills both forward and backwards so you can see how that is allowed. If the rule was that both front and back are the same root skill, then the Weiler and clear hip would be considered having the same root skill, but because that’s not the rule, they have different roots (a front clear hip and a back clear hip).

Say the worst happens and UIC ends their MAG and WAG programs. What happens to the gymnasts competing for them or the ones that are committed there? Do they get the option to still attend the school with a scholarship?

Gymnasts who are currently on the team (enrolled and in college this year) who still have eligibility ahead of them (so everyone except the seniors) are allowed to stay at UIC on full athletic scholarships, but this doesn’t apply to any of the verbal or signed commits. The commits basically have to find a new program if they want to do college gym, which shouldn’t be SO hard for some of the younger ones, but for the gymnasts who are seniors in high school now and thought they had this all planned out, it’s kind of a pain in the ass and could potentially mean they don’t end up with NCAA careers or athletic scholarships at all.

Are judges crediting less incomplete leaps and turns on floor than before?

Not to my knowledge…at domestic meets, yeah, probably, but then once these girls get to meets with FIG-rated judges, they’re in for a surprise.

Is there a fundamental difference between ballet and gymnastics leotards? I’ve noticed some MG Elite girls and Olivia Dunne have been training in dance leos.

I think the cost for ballet leos is like one billion dollars cheaper, lol…some of the tank training leos are like $60 which is nutso. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $15 for a ballet leo! Ballet leos are generally more cotton, usually with a slight lycra mix to give it some stretch, whereas gymnastics leos are ALL about that stretch, so it’s a lot more lycra and spandex. Also, ballet leos tend to be a single color and kind of plain (most ballet classes when you’re in children’s or pre-professional programs require a certain color leo and tights for each class) whereas gym leos are more wild and fun. You can wear a ballet leo for gymnastics and be fine, when I was a kid I had ballet class and gymnastics at the same studio and would wear the same leo to both…I think most people just prefer the more stretchy gymnastics leos since they’re a little less constricting if you’re flipping around.

What would have to happen in order to abolish the rule about endorsements and elites competing NCAA? How could an elite do both?

I think due to the nature of NCAA, they’re never just going to okay any gymnast making money also competing in college, because someone like Simone Biles or Aly Raisman is just as much a professional athlete as in most other sports…but they’re the anomaly. Usually a gymnast’s prime earning potential as a pro athlete is when she’s younger than college-aged…like 15-17. Someone needs to advocate for a rule that allows gymnasts who are at this stage to earn money when they’re at the peak of their elite career and THEN be allowed to compete in college once they’ve retired from elite, basically doing things backwards compared to how it works in most other sports. Someone like Jordyn Wieber or Rebecca Bross, for example, were at their peak pro-athlete earning potential before they reached 18, and it’s absolutely horrible that neither of them got to later experience NCAA as athletes. Gymnasts shouldn’t have to make these very adult decisions between earning money and going to college when they’re 14 or 15, and the NCAA needs to recognize that this sport is not like the rest in terms of the peak age, and it needs to change to reflect its own individual needs. I think we need advocates and petitions out there to get the conversation started, and hopefully the NCAA will eventually take the demands seriously and begin making changes.

Do you know what’s going on with Jade Carey at Oregon State? She’s not on the roster.

Their 2019 roster hasn’t been released yet. When it is, she’s expected to be on it because she is starting school this fall (as a fellow Beaver — I take science classes through their ecampus for fun — our fall quarter doesn’t start until September 20).

Would a lone roll dive skill like the one Olga Korbut did at the beginning of her floor routine in 1972 be allowed today or is it banned? What about her second tumbling pass?

The dive roll is okay now, but doesn’t count as a tumbling pass or anything. Sophia Butler does one as part of her choreography and it’s totally fine. As for Olga’s second pass, the back dive, that would not be allowed as a tumbling pass today.

Why are front skills on bars the backward swinging ones and vice versa?

They’re not. They’re front-swinging skills. To most people, a front swing looks backwards, and a back swing looks like it’s going front. The “backwards” comes from the momentum of the swing. If you were swinging backwards and let go of the bar, you’d flip backwards, so even though it looks like you’re swinging forward, you’re actually traveling backwards in the swing and in terms of momentum. The giant swing into the Jaeger is a front giant into a front salto skill, for example, and the giant swing into a Kovacs is a back giant into a back salto skill.

Have a question? Ask below! Remember that the form directly below this line is for questions; to comment, keep scrolling to the bottom of the page. We do not answer questions about team predictions nor questions that ask “what do you think of [insert gymnast here]?”

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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26 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. That seriously sucks about UIC for the girls who were supposed to go next year! I’m in the area and now I wanna go to every meet they have – but I don’t think that will fix it 😦

    Liked by 1 person

      • The state budget in Rhode Island was not as screwed up as Illinois’s budget is. They just passed their first state budget in years, and public colleges/universities are still operating at like 8% below their 2014 funding levels. I am not surprised that this is happening- several state schools have already cut entire majors from their offerings.


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  3. When people rave about the MG elite leotards that look like dance leos I’m here like well you can get that at DDS for pretty cheap. But also for me I felt that dance leotards were too loose and moved around a lot and I wouldn’t want to do gym in it. I wonder if the ones made by gymnastic leotard companies are made of gym leo material just designed like dance leos


    • If compulsories were a thing these days, athletes would adjust their training style accordingly. I would love to see Simone Biles master a compulsory routine like that. Maybe the ballet inspired parts would not come as natural to her as say… Riley McCusker e.g., but I’m sure most gymnasts are perfectionist enough to put in the effort and determination.
      Now I won’t be able to sleep, imagining Simone Biles doing a comic version (intended) of this routine and the judges not being able to deduct A THING because of perfect execution.


      • I can’t imagine Simone doing all that much better than any of the other top gymnasts at compulsuries. Her toe point (It’s not because she’s flat footed, it’s just not that great) and on Beam some of her leaps would get docked at compulsories. Plus, she has so much power I would question if she would be able to consistently get the landings in compulsory. I’m not saying Simone has trash form and would suck at compulsiries, I’m just saying that she would be vulnerable and would probably place below first at some competitions even on a good day.


        • They should divide gymnastics in two: acrobatics gym and artistic gym. Leave vault for the acrobats ! Then there would be obligatory 2 vaults. Floor without music to don’t embarrass Gymnasts like Jade. Do tumbling and not dancing in the floor.
          Leave beam, bars and floor with dance elements and music with coreo with extra points for artistic gymnastics like always was before the manipulation in the code favoring robotics…. there would be less injuries, less unfairness, there would have place for everybody…just dreaming.


        • 1. Acrobatic gymnastics is a thing. Power tumbling is a thing.

          2. Ah yes, no gymnast who’s ever struggled with artistry was good on bars and beam and no gymnast who was strong in artistry was ever good on vault

          Can we PLEASE move past this power/artistry dichotomy discussion?

          Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I very well can imagine Simone doing compulsories, her technique is killer.

      (Casual reminder that Kim Zmeskal did one of the best compulsory floor routines in Barcelona)


        • Ah yes, because if you don’t stick your timers in podium training, you will fail in competition. The golden rule of gymnastics.

          And even then… those landings were pretty well controlled. Especially for, you know, podium training timers.


  4. Maybe a good junior worlds compromise would be to have the team event but allow smaller programs to send up to four to compete as individuals if they can’t or don’t want to send a full team but want to send more then one or two athletes.


    • I could see them doing a European Games kind of format, a 3-3-2 system seems appropriate for a junior meet. I think that’s a good compromise for large countries who want a team event and smaller countries who would only be able to send a couple of individuals.


  5. RE: Jade Carey and artistry. I had hoped that while recovering from injury her training would focus on artistry. It seems like there is so much that can be done to coach feeling and moving to music when physically limited. Then I saw her at classics and was like nope, missed opportunity there. I just don’t understand what they are doing. She competes a frickin Moors after a knee injury but can’t even attempt to dance.


  6. they should have team at jr worlds. if they want it to be popular….lol…. but then the US might just get dominant and then everyone would just complain again….


  7. WORLDS TEAM COMPETITION FORMAT!!!!! Help me understand this, please!!! I was reading up on the draw of the gymnasts/countries at worlds this year, starting to look at who all is competing (countries, anyway) and during that I saw that the team competition format is DIFFERENT this year! Say, for example, that USA and RUS are on Vault first: the normal order is USA 1, 2, then 3, and then RUS 1, 2, then 3 competing, but INSTEAD, it’s going to be USA 1, RUS 1, USA 2, RUS 2, USA 3, and finally RUS 3.
    WHY is this??? I don’t get why they would change this, and I am also extremely curious to know if this is the way it will be next year worlds, and especially at the 2020 Olympics. Anyone know anything about this? Any thoughts??


    • You mean the way the Team Final will take place. Yes, it was changed and it is planned to be like that in 2019 and 2020 as well. The reason is to keep the tension up until the last minute. In the old way, 4 teams of 8 had finished the competition already when the other 4 started their last event.


  8. Comment: The official rule regarding round off, Onodi, free cartwheel, Arabian is that these are forward skills ……actually they request forward/sideward and backward skills. So the skill can be wither forwards or side wards to fulfill the requirement


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